The Postpartum Belly: Fluid Retention & Edema

Hey folks. A few friends have asked about my postpartum belly and how the recovery goes…so I’m here to tell you! Let’s begin with the swelling.

As postpartum mamas know, you come out of the hospital/center/home still looking about 6 months pregnant after delivery; the expanded uterus will continue to shrink over the next several days and weeks and the mother will experience lochia, a period of sorts, as the residual fluid and blood gradually exit the body.

In addition to abdominal bloat from natural fluids, edema (swelling) from IV fluids can occur in the hands, face, legs and feet. Thankfully I only experienced minimal swelling in my ankles and feet that remained a couple of days after the C section surgery. As you can somewhat tell from my photos (bare belly pics coming soon!), I also experienced swelling at the incision site… forming a strange “speed bump” down there! Thankfully it has mostly gone away after 4-5 weeks.

Here are some things I have done and NOT done to address my postpartum belly bloat:

DID:

  • Continue massaging uterus and skin ABOVE incision line (I used Eucerin Advanced Healing Creme to keep skin moisturized).
  • Periodic transverse abdominis contractions (“naval towards spine”). Haven’t stressed about doing these, just when I have thought to do so.
  • Stay hydrated as much as possible. Water for my milk makers and water for my skin 👌.

Did NOT:

  • Wear a belly binder or stomach wrap after delivery (I wanted my skin to retract naturally as the bloat reduced–more on this in another post).
  • Remain idle. Yes you need significant rest after surgery, but I was also told before my C-section that it would be wise to get up and walk as soon after surgery as possible. I did my best and I’m sure it helped my body heal and to relieve some of the swelling and fluid retention.

So that’s that! I hope to continue sharing my postpartum core recovery {after twins!}, so let’s pray I can make it all work: get my rest, take care of my family…and keep writing 🙂

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